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Video Format for Instagram: In-Feed, Stories, Reels, and Ads

Video Format for Instagram In-Feed, Stories, Reels, and Ads

According to Shutterstock, Instagram’s advertising revenue has increased dramatically in the past few years, totaling about 26 billion in 2021, and it is expected to be 33 billion in 2022, which is four times more than in 2018.

This makes Instagram one of the top platforms for marketing for companies trying to target young, trendy, and global audiences with their products and services. Because there is so much potential for profit in IG, you can bet that brands compete to put out the best advertising content they can create.

At the same time, video is huge right now, and it’s only expected to get more popular in the coming years. By the end of 2020, 82% of global Internet traffic was taken by video streaming and download.

Instagram is a great place to use video marketing; Hootsuite reports that 1 billion people use Instagram every month, and 500 million use it every day. In addition, 88% of these users live outside of the United States, and 71% are under the age of 35.

Furthermore, 95 million photos and videos are posted on Instagram per day. So by using Instagram as a tool in your marketing plan, you have the chance to reach a vast, international audience of young people every single day, and they want to see your video content.

Just keep in mind that you’re not the only business marketing to this audience through this social network, so you’ll need to find a way to stand out.

One way to NOT get noticed is to incorrectly format and upload Instagram videos. There is so much video content available on Instagram no user is going to waste their time watching a video that isn’t done well.

So save yourself some time and money, start your Instagram video marketing strategy off on the right foot using the best video solutions.

Instagram Video Format Parameters Explained

Here is a quick guide for each parameter we’ll cover before we dive into the exact specs for each Instagram video type. 

  • Video Format

The video format is a file format for storing digital video data on a computer. You can see a video file’s format by checking its extension; the last three letters in the file format name period. The most popular designs for online video platforms are MP4, FLV, and WMV due to their relatively small sizes. 

  • Video Codec

A video codec is used to compress a video (when recording) and decompress it (during playback) to reduce file size. The compressed video is then stored using a file format. H.264, MPEG-4, and DivX are some popular codecs you’ve probably used.

  • Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the video’s width in relation to its height. For example, the 4:3 aspect ratio means the video is 4 units high and 3 units wide. Also, the 16:9 aspect ratio means your video is 16 units high and 9 units wide. A video’s aspect ratio has nothing to do with its physical size.

  • Resolution

Video resolution is the physical size of your picture. It is determined by the number of pixels in one frame. A standard 1280 x 720 HD resolution has 1280 pixels across the breadth and 720 pixels along with the height of the video, over 920,000 pixels. A higher resolution, such as 1920 x 1080 Full HD, will have broader and higher dimensions and way more pixels.

  • Frame Rate

A video is a series of multiple still images called frames. The frame rate is the frequency that those images appear on the screen. 30 FPS means 30 frames are displayed on screen every second.

  • Bitrate

A video’s bitrate is the amount of data encoded in a video per second. It is expressed in megabits per second. The higher the bit rate, the higher the quality and file size of your video. Two videos can have the exact resolution but different bitrates. Resolution is determined by the number of pixels in a video frame while bitrate is the average size of a video file per second. For instance, the bitrate for a 1080p video with 60 fps is about 12Mbps.

  • Video Length

Video length is, of course, the length of the video, measured in seconds or minutes. Most Instagram videos are short, though you can add a 2-3 minute video to your feed.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of Instagram video format, let’s view the following formatting parameters for each type of Instagram video:

In-Feed Videos

example of instagram in-feed video from Nike

The following are the standard formatting requirements for in-feed Instagram videos, according to Meta Business:

  • Preferred format: MP4  or MOV
  • Ratio: 4:5
  • Frame rate: 30 FPS or below
  • Resolution: 1080 pixels
  • Length: 1-60 minutes 
  • Maximum file size: 250MB

Adding captions and sound to your videos is optional, but Meta experts strongly recommend considering them. Even though videos in the feed have a default mute mode on, the first 10 seconds of the video are watched soundless but the first 30 seconds are with sound on. 

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are viewed vertically and follow the exact dimensions of a typical smartphone screen.

The maximum length of an Instagram story is 15 seconds. Even though the length is restricted, you can still use stories for advertising purposes; just realize the time limitations and create short ads that quickly communicate your goal(s).

Consider using stories as a teaser; get people interested in your content and then direct them to your website or blog to see other content.

Meta for business recommends using the following parameters for Instagram Stories.

  • Format: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • File size: 250 MB maximum
  • Length: 15 seconds per one Story
  • Resolution: at least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Video settings: H.264 compression, fixed frame rate, progressive scan, and stereo AAC audio compression at 128 kbps+

Sound and captions are also optional, though 70% of all Instagram stories are watched with sound on, so it helps to engage people and make them wanna know more about you or your brand. 

Instagram Reels

instagram reels examples

Instagram Reels were released in August 2020 and have won users’ respect within months. If you compare engagement statistics of in-feed videos and reels, you see that reels receive 22% more attention from users than regular videos. As the rate of audience engagement for reels is way higher than for regular in-feed videos, many people use them to accumulate an audience. 

Originally reels were created so Instagram could compete with Tik Tok for traffic. With reels, you can share your story, take part in popular challenges, build brand awareness, and implement creative ideas. 

Meta for business lists the general requirements for reels:

  • Format: MP4, MOV
  • File size: 4GB
  • Length: up to 60 seconds
  • Ratio: 9:16 
  • Video settings: H.264 compression, fixed frame rate, progressive scan, and stereo AAC audio compression at 128 kbps+
  • Resolution: At least 500 x 888 pixels

Instagram Ads

Instagram video format - ads

If you’re thinking about creating video advertisements for Instagram, you’re on the road to success. Video marketing is huge right now, and Instagram has an incredibly high rate of engagement. Combine that audience engagement with the lights, sound, and motion that go along with videography, and you’ve got a marketing recipe that’s sure to help your business increase brand awareness, grow your audience, and sell more products.

One reason why video ads work so well is that they blend seamlessly into the customer’s newsfeed. Oftentimes it’s hard to tell the difference between an ad and a general post, so it’s a more natural and authentic way to reach your audience. Keep this in mind when creating your video; you want it to blend in, so avoid promoting your brand too much.

Consider the following tips when creating video advertisements for Instagram:

Tip 1. Engage your audience in the first 3 seconds of the video

If your audience doesn’t think the video is relevant in the first 3 seconds of it playing, they’re going to keep scrolling. You need to use the beginning of the video to spark their attention and also show them how the ad is going to be relevant to them.

Use bright colors and lots of movement so it’s easy to tell that it’s a video and not a still image. This is not the time to be subtle; make it clear what your video is about and do it in a loud way. Additionally, we did an experiment where we tested whether or not stickers make a video ad more engaging. See the results here!

Tip 2. Use text

We’ve already established that most users watch videos without sound, and Instagram videos are muted by default, so include text to make sure no one misses out on your message.

You don’t necessarily have to caption everything that’s being said; some strategically placed text that conveys the general theme and goal of the video can work wonders. Colorful, dynamic text that moves is a great way to catch your audience’s attention while also highlighting the main points of your advertisement.  Try not to include too much text; you don’t want to overwhelm your audience or for your video to seem cluttered.

Tip 3. Set a goal

What are you trying to accomplish with your video? Do you want to grow your audience? Increase brand awareness? Demonstrate how to use a new product? Promote an upcoming event?

Set a clear goal and return back to it often to avoid getting off track. You only have a short amount of time to get your message across before you lose your audience, so don’t waste time talking about anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. A short, 30-60 second video is only enough time to accomplish one goal, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember who your target audience is, and tailor your content to them.

Tip 4. Be creative

You want your video to blend into the newsfeed seamlessly, so try to avoid it looking too much like an ad.

You’re also competing with thousands of other businesses to get your advertisement noticed, so try to think outside the box! Why should a user spend their time watching your ad and not someone else’s? Communicate quickly how your ad is relevant to them, but do it in a natural and authentic way.

Tip 5. Include a clear call-to-action

Wordstream recommends simplifying your call to action as much as possible. Users want content that they can read and understand as quickly as possible, so chances are they’re not going to click on your “link in bio” after viewing a video ad.

Put your whole message in the advertisement and make the CTA as clear as possible; if you want your audience to “learn more”, include a button immediately in the ad that will take them to your webpage where the additional information exists.

Don’t ask them to go to your story, then to a different landing page only to ultimately end up on your website- you’ll lose them long before they get to that endpoint.

Tip 6. Test out your video on an audience

It’s never a bad idea to create different versions of your advertisement and then A/B test them out on a sample of your audience. It’s an extra step, and it takes a little more time, but it will save you time in the long run. Track your analytic data for both ads and see which one has a higher conversion rate.

It doesn’t hurt to ask for customer feedback either; see what they have to say about your music and visuals. Are they understanding your message? Is the call to action clear and uncomplicated? Between the data and the feedback, you should be able to get a clear picture of which version of your ad will be more successful.

Create engaging videos for Instagram with Wave.video

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Instagram Ads Video Specs

Now that you have an idea of the steps to take in creating a video ad for Instagram, it’s important to note the proper specs. Here are some guidelines so you could choose the best format for the Instagram video, to attract attention:

Vertical Video

  • Resolution: 600 x 750
  • Aspect ratio: 4:5
  • Max size & length: 4 GB/60 seconds

Landscape Video

  • Resolution: 600 x 315
  • Aspect ratio: 1:91:1
  • Max size & length: 4 GB/60 seconds

Square video

  • Resolution: 600 x 600
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Max size & length: 4 GB/60 seconds

Instagram Video Formatting FAQs

What is the best video format for Instagram?

The best Instagram video format for any type of video is MP4 with H.264 codec and AAC audio.

How to change a video’s format to MP4?

Upload your video to Wave.video and download it as an MP4 video.

How do I change the aspect ratio of an Instagram video?

Wave.video has multiple Instagram aspect ratio presets you can use for your video. From the editor, you can choose different aspect ratios for other social platforms like YouTube or Facebook and resize your video in one click.

Video Format for Instagram

What is the max video size for Instagram?

You can upload up to 4 GB of video to Instagram through Reels. Instagram feed videos and stories are at 250 MB.

How do I post a long video on Instagram?

You can upload up to 60 minutes of video on Instagram. It would be posted in your feed. As a preview Instagram would show 1st minute of the video, then it would invite you to go and watch it till the end in the video tab.

How to Increase Instagram Video Quality

Instagram compresses your video in order to reduce the file size, but it also reduces the quality. Do this to get the best video quality:

  • Shoot at higher qualities, 4K and 60 FPS if possible.
  • Transfer files safely without compressing through AirDrop, Dropbox, or USB cable
  • Edit with proper settings in mind
  • Export to recommended specs

Wrapping Up

Instagram is the perfect marketing platform for anyone looking to grow their brand and/or connect with a large audience of young people; it’s great for finding new customers, reconnecting with old ones, and retargeting users in order to drive sales.

This platform offers several different ways to incorporate video marketing as well. We suggest using a combination of in-feed videos, story videos, and video advertisements in order to gain as many benefits as possible.

Plan your campaign ahead of time so you can stay on track with your goals, and make sure to track your conversion rate and other types of analytic data so you know if your marketing strategy needs to be amended. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out this article from our blog!

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